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Gladstone Reef guardian schools receive recognition.



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Joint Media Release Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage Dr David Kemp & Federal Member for Hinkler Paul Neville MP

7 July 2004

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Gladstone Reef guardian schools receive recognition

School children in the Gladstone and Agnes Waters area today received recognition for their contribution to protecting the Great Barrier Reef when the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and Federal Member for Hinkler, Paul Neville, presented them with their Reef Guardian plaques.

Three schools - Agnes Waters State School, Mount Larcom State School and Star of the Sea Primary School - received the recognition as Reef Guardian Schools for initiating projects such as a plastic free program; getting involved in composting, recycling and water conservation; and stenciling calico bags as an alternative to plastic bags.

Dr Kemp said the Reef Guardian Schools program is an exciting, innovative program that encourages students, teachers, parents and friends to become involved in protecting our environment and the Great Barrier Reef.

"I'm very impressed with this initiative. The number of schools participating has increased from 25 last year to 117 this year. I'm very pleased to see so much school and community participation in protecting our environment and keeping the ‘great' in our Great Barrier Reef," Dr Kemp said.

Mr Neville added: "Young Australians play a fundamental role in the future protection, wise use and understanding of the Great Barrier Reef.

"These students have been inspirational in getting the whole community involved in helping to protect the Great Barrier Reef through activities such as collecting and planting native seeds, setting up recycling bins and stencilling drains."

The Reef Guardian Schools program is an initiative of the Australian Government delivered through ReefED (the education arm of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) with funding of $110,000 in 2003-04 and $166,300 in 2004-05.

The Reef Guardian Schools program is part of the Australian Government's broader campaign to raise national awareness of the problems caused by dumping plastic debris into the marine environment.

"Millions of seabirds and marine animals are placed at risk by plastic litter every year. It is estimated that 18,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square kilometre of the world's oceans," Dr Kemp said.

"Through the Keep the Sea Plastic Free - Bin It campaign, funded by the Australian Government's $3b Natural Heritage Trust, we are working with the community, environment groups, fishing associations and local government to reduce the devastating impact of plastic rubbish on marine wildlife.

"We are also working with Clean Up Australia and the Australian Retailers Association to encourage people to Say No to Plastic Bags ."

For more information visit www.reefed.edu.au or www.deh.gov.au/plasticdebris . Further details on the Reef Guardian Schools projects will be made available on the day.